If you’re a fan of Kelly Collins’s Aspen Cove series, you may not be familiar with some of her older works. I read The Dean’s List quite some time ago, and it’s high time I reviewed it. Many of my faithful readers avidly devour romance in multiple genres, so I believe they just might enjoy this steamy contemporary read!
Kelly Collins and I became friends several years ago—my star was on the way down while hers was moving up, and so we strategized together frequently (we live within an hour of each other in Colorado, so meeting was easy). What I love about Kelly is that she approached the business from multiple angles until she discovered what worked for her and she is constantly refining and perfecting her craft. But don’t get me wrong—even her earlier works will hit the spot!
It’s been some time since I talked with Kelly about her series Making the Grade (The Dean’s List is the first book of the series), but I believe she found her inspiration from a news story that she took and ran with, making the idea her own. Basically, in Kelly’s story, you get the idea of what it would be like to be a college student earning a business degree who discovers that paying the bills is easier when you get a job working as an escort in exchange for mentoring—and loads of money—from rich businessmen. In her story, we meet River and a couple of her friends (including one named Jade!) as they go into this line of work to pay for their education. Along the way, she makes another couple of friends but, worse, she also falls in love with a wealthy businessman—I say worse, because she knows it will never amount to anything. She also begins to feel used and hollow based on this temporary line of work. Jonathan, the man she’s beginning to fall for, basically lets her know that it’s never going to be anything more than what it is at the surface. Very quickly, though, it becomes evident that River and Jonathan have developed deeper feelings for one another.
We also follow the subplot of what’s going on with Jade, who is a sub in a complicated relationship. In addition, we get a good glimpse of Jade’s friend Luca, who is the protagonist in the second book of the series.
River and Jonathan heal each other. River is no longer living with her parents as she attends college, but they have spent her whole life making her feels worthless, while Jonathan makes River feel not only loved but worthy of being loved. Jonathan comes into the relationship believing he can never love again, based on losing someone in his past. The problem is River loses her heart to him pretty quickly, and it’s not long before she is head over heels—so much so that she decides to make herself exclusively available to him.
But one night of misunderstandings tears them apart, just as they were beginning to realize they didn’t want anyone else.
So will Jonathan be River’s forever man or did he simply help her heal so she could move on with her life? You’re going to have to read the book to find out for sure!
Friends, I love Kelly. I consider her a great friend and I’m so thrilled for her that her Aspen Cove series has resonated with readers—but there were other series by Kelly before Aspen Cove, and Making the Grade was about as far removed from small town Colorado as you can get (NYC!)…and there will be a Kelly after. If you want to experience what she was writing before Aspen Cove, you can start here. If you love Kelly’s writing, I think you’ll also love this story!
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